The Walloon Region had to divert part of the funds intended for the ecological and climatic transition to health emergencies. Many projects are frozen.

The Walloon Region had to divert part of the funds intended for the ecological and climatic transition to health emergencies. Many projects are frozen.

From our correspondent Max Helleff (Brussels) – The environment is frequently cited as one of the winners of the health crisis facing the planet. Emissions of nitrogen dioxide released into the air have decreased. Satellite observations indicate that NO2 shows “a tendency to a gradual reduction” and that the Chinese sky is washed of a significant part of its pollution. The fish, add the environmentalists, returned to the canals of Venice rid of motor boats.

However, in Wallonia, the medal has its downside. The coronavirus crisis could well destroy a large part of the projects that the Region intended to carry out in the climatic and environmental framework. However, the regional government of the socialist Elio Di Rupo has bet big on the “green” card, boosted that it is by the ecologists who returned to power in the elections of May 26.

Almost everything would have to be redone. On March 9, the Walloon government announced that it was time to put into action its regional plan for social, economic and ecological transition, the main thrust of the current legislature. Three weeks later, some of these sites are blocked before they can even start. 350 million entered in the 2020 budget for the first measures of the transition plan have been reallocated to the fight against the coronavirus and support for businesses.

Several cases have been detected in the university city which does not intend to close its faculties, however.

“We have to postpone our plan,” said Elio Di Rupo. It is shifted. No one would understand that Wallonia is devoting its energy and resources to something other than absolute urgency. ” The socialist adds that the Region cannot finance everything. A way to turn to the federal government which has decided to put 8-10 billion euros on the table to support the country and its economy. Di Rupo said in the columns of L’Echo on Friday that the Walloon transition plan has not been abandoned. It will become the “rebound board”. “It is still relevant, but we must add the health emergency,” he said.

The call of the Minister-President’s foot also applies to the EU, which is called upon to be more generous. The European Commission’s decision to propose a new multi-annual budget plan to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic could not have been better.

“One more opportunity to change models”

Some see an opportunity in this shackle. Like Walloon Minister Philippe Henry (Ecolo) who does not want a return to business as usual: “We will have to finance structural changes. The struggles against the virus and for the transition come together. This is one more opportunity to change the model and to convince people of the need for change, “he said in the columns of Le Soir.

In a carte blanche recently relayed by L’Echo, the economist Céline Boulenger (Degroof Petercam) warned against abandoning ecological transition policies. For her, in essence, the covid-19 virus is not a miracle cure for climate change, but rather a distraction that diverts public and private investments from green energies and risks wiping out the climate emergency, either in the population or in governments.

There is nothing to say whether or not these comments will be prescient. But the temptation to put the climate emergency on hold is something that will probably weigh heavily in the coming months, in Wallonia as elsewhere.

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